Where everybody knows your name

Sometimes you just need to be somewhere you can be yourself.





Hemp: not just for hippies anymore

Last week, I was running low on face wash & moisturiser. I was using a Dove moisturiser and a Biore face wash, the latter of which I was fairly happy with upon finding out that they’re not tested on animals & the glycerin it contains is of non-animal origin. However, after expanding my concerns from animal welfare to the environment in general, I couldn’t keep buying either of these products. They’re full of chemicals which I can’t even pronounce, which I feel is a bad sign. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat/drink/smoke/use it. Plus, both come in plastic containers, which are marked with the resin identification code 2 and HDPE: high-density polyethylene. It doesn’t carry the known health risks of plastics like PVC or those containing BPA, and is recycleable, but the fact still remains that in terms of raw material and energy, 1.75kg of petroleum is required to make 1kg of this plastic. I can’t even find information on how much of that would be recycled, but I’m willing to bet it would be a smaller amount still. Remember, recycling is actually downcycling: the plastic bottles you recycle don’t go on to become more plastic bottles.

Anyway, I was charged with finding products for my extremely simple skincare regime which filled the following criteria:
x vegan
x not tested on animals
x organic
x with minimal plastic packaging/ packaging that is easily reusable (the saying “reduce, reuse and recycle” is in that order for a reason)
x not too expensive
x generally producing as small a negative impact on the world as possible.

Enter the hemp store at my local shopping mall. Hemp grows in a few months, doesn’t require chemical pesticides, and needs a fraction of the water that cotton does. Additionally, hemp seeds are basically bursting with goodness, full of essential fats and protein. The presence of these fats is what makes hemp seed oil products so great for your skin: it’s nourishing it with exactly what it needs and without any chemicals.


I bought two bars of hemp oil soap, for face wash, one lavender scented for night when I night to calm doon and one lemongrass scented for when I need invigoration in the morning. Each came with a strip of plasticky-paper stuck around the middle, which sucks because it could have easily been recycled card. There are only seven ingredients: organic Australian hemp seed oil, Orangutan friendly palm oil & palm kernel oil, vegetable glycerine, natural sea salt, vitamin E, natural organic colour, lemon grass essential oil, which sound pretty good to me. You?


I also bought some face cream which is slightly less pleasing. It’s in a glass jar with a tin lid & a plastic insert under the lid, so the packaging isn’t too bad as I can easily repurpose it, or failing that recycle most of it. The ingredients are slightly more disconcerting. I read somewhere that a good idea is to stick to as few ingredients as possible, with twelve ingredients and six flavours of essential oil (which does make it smell really delicious, a tiny bit minty and a bit citrus-y and quite zesty and invigorating). There are three ingredients which have warning levels of 0-2 on Cosmetics Database, which is again not ideal but a lot better than the Dove moisturiser which got an overall score of 7.

You may not care, and are just happy to have found something to do the good work on your skin. Well, as actual products, the soap and the moisturiser are both great. The soap makes my skin all soft and tingly, if a little stretched-feeling (though I get this whenever I wash my face with anything other than water), and the moisturiser makes my skin even softer & smell nice. I’ve even noticed that a scar I had from a zit that I kept hassling (Hi, I’m Kendal and I’m a picker D:) has faded in the week since I started using the new products. The moisturiser does feel a little thick when you put it on, but if you wait a few moments for it to dry & then rub your face gently, you’ll love how soft & smooth your skin feels.

This post is part of a new theme in my life, namely, putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve signed Big Green Purse’s One In A Million Campaign, which wants to get a million women using their incredible spending power (we spend 85c of each dollar, apparently) for the good of the planet, through spending $1,000 on things like organic food, natural cosmetics and fuel-efficient goods instead of what they would usually buy. I’m $23.76 closer to my thousand, and looking forward to more shopping to save the world :)

ETA: some pictures from the website of the company (a little family owned one in Victoria, aww!), G.R.E.E.N. Hemp of what I bought, as well as to say that I am taking a leaf (or scale?) out of Beth’s book and emailing the company to praise & ask about the soap wrapper. I’ll let you know what the reply is!

No Impact Man is having a big impact on me.

I’m almost finished catching up on the Fake Plastic Fish archives, and at the beginning of this month, Beth posted an interview with No Impact Man. No Impact Man is Colin Beavan, who initially decided to go for a year making no/little environmental impact. Whilst living in a New York apartment with his family (which brought imaginable difficulties to his goal). This year-long project has evolved into a new lifestyle for Beavan, a book and a movie based on his experience.

Getting back to the interview, it is hitting me deeply that a lot of what Beavan says in regards to efforts to help the earth can also be applied to people struggling with anything overwhelming in their lives (me personally? Mental illness & university). My emphasis in bold.

So, we have to accept that the problem is overwhelming and immense and at the same time just get on with it.

So we can get overwhelmed and say that the human race is terrible, we’re doing terrible things. But actually, if you look very closely at the people around you, you find that most people are doing the right thing. They’re holding doors for each other, they’re helping each other across the street. They’re smiling at little kids ’cause little kids are fun. They’re joking with each other. I would say watch like the UPS man. Watch what’s happening on the street. People are joking with each other. People are lovely. Right?

Unfortunately for us, that loveliness is not reflected in our institutions… But never forget that people are lovely, right? And then for me that takes the overwhelmingness away.

Every day I am grateful for the little things that remind me of life’s potential.

Back under your bridge

Dear troll,
While I thank you for your opinion, which has led to a reconsideration of my own (and the resulting deletion of a post or two), I must ask you to desist and find something worthwhile to do with your time.

Such as reading. I’ve been powering through, and in the last couple of weeks finished Glue and Porno by Irvine Welsh (best known for Trainspotting, which Porno is the sequel to), Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and am now working on Freud’s On Sexuality, which is a collection of some of his essays & letters on sexuality (clearly).

I’m actually enjoying Freud, although today I got up to the castration complex, which has soured my opinion somewhat. Poor man, thinking that a penis is something to be missed, instead of an extraneous organ, developed to make up for missing a second X chromosome.

But, as I was explaining (loudly, drunkenly, at 5am) on the weekend, while I may have a general disdain for men, and find a lot of people terribly annoying or enraging, at the base of it all I still love them because everyone person is a miracle & contains so much potential. We are the children of the stars.

Hope

I came of age in the time of Animorphs. The story was, a bunch of kids are given the ability to morph into animals by an alien. It’s their job to save the world from another species of alien. The bad aliens are called Yeerks, and they’re intergalactic slugs which crawl inside your head and sit on your brain, controlling your every move. They enslave entire species in a twisted parasitic relationship, because while their minds are mighty, they’ve just got little slug bodies which can’t really do much without a host.

What got me thinking about the Yeerks again was trying to explain how it feels to have a mental illness. The more I reflect on it, the more apt a comparison it seems. The illness, whatever it is, integrates itself into your life, and even as you’re trying to overcome it, it’s warping your thoughts to make you do its bidding. The difference comes with killing the Yeerks. They need to feed off energy from their sun (or a synthetic equivalent for those off-planet), and if they stay inside a host for three days instead of coming out to feed, they die. A mental illness is not so easy to beat down. It grows stronger off your weakness, and, well, you can’t exactly blame an alien slug for the things you think and do. As much as it is separate from you, it is also a part of you.

Dealing with this unwelcome guest takes a lot longer than three days, and requires an arsenal of weapons. The harsh realisation I’ve come to is that defeating a mental illness is not about defeating it at all, but accepting it and learning to live with it and what it does to you. For all we know about the human mind, there are still many questions which aren’t answered, but I think those will come with time (and good funding for science programs). Maybe one day we’ll be able to better control the neuron storms inside our brains. Maybe not. Maybe, as they say, some suffering is necessary.

At the end of the day, I keep my own Yeerks at bay with the hope that tomorrow will be better. That there is a deeper meaning to this suffering that we can’t yet comprehend. Life is about survival, and hope is one of the best defences you can have.

What a wonderful life

I’m really coming to love living in Shoalwater (about an hour south of Perth).  Despite the fact that it’s basically south of the middle of nowhere, it’s starting to grow on me.  Something about the seabreeze each day and the peek of the beach at the end of my street makes me feel like “holiday”, like “relax”.

The traffic here is more funny than scary, as it is closer to the city.  Your random driver is most likely going to be a young person going 10km+ over the speed limit or an old person going 10km under the speed limit.  Something about cruising around with the window open, the wind pouring in, my iPod pumped, it makes me happy.

Even the big shopping centre, which would normally be a major source of anxiety, is fairly pleasing to me. I can’t get too worried about people watching and talking about me; they’re all such bogans down here, the Centrelink is packed, and the feeling is once again very relaxed.

I went down to the beach today and stood in the waves and concentrated very hard on the fact that I was balancing carefully between two worlds. And while too much of being landlocked or at sea is a terrifying thought, knowing i could easily pass back and forth between the two environments made it better.

I’ve had good times and bad times in my life, especially, oh, over the last six years. Today I fully grasped the idea that it was not always my life which was “good” or “bad” but rather my mood. I will admit that being able to hold this thought and use it to garner my strength during the worse moods is going to be difficult. The simple difference between life being good and life being bad is how good or bad I feel about life, and sometimes there is just the chemically imbalanced badness in my mind which won’t accept any more positive thoughts. I always used to scoff at the idea of positive thinking and affirmations and stuff. It all sounds so new-agey touchy-feely-healy bullshit, but it doesn’t need to be. Like my dad said, some days you’re going to wake up and you are just on the wrong side of the bed and it’s ok to skip out on life for a day and just chillax. But the other days, they all at least show promise for improvement and you’ve got to damn well tough it out.